Charlotte, N.C.- Despite being down by eight with 1:16 left in regulation the Charlotte 49ers weathered the Golden Hurricane attack and handed Tulsa (7-10, 2-1 C-USA) its first loss in Conference USA play, 90-86. Charlotte (11-5, 2-1 C-USA) had six players in double figures led by Pierria Henry with 18 points.
“I am happy with our guy’s fight,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a dog fight. The guys hung in there and kept fighting.”
“We have a type of team that when one or two guys do not have it going, certain guys can chip in. We had six guys in double figures and that is credit to the team looking for each other throughout the game. It was a team effort, especially when you have six guys in double-figures.,” Major said.
Ben Cherry started the 49er attack with a triple from the baseline in front of the 49er bench to spark a 13-5 run to end regulation. Tulsa missed three freebies down the stretch from the charity stripe to give the Niners the opening it needed to complete the comeback.
Terrence Williams received a pass from Henry near the baseline for an easy lay-in to cut the Tulsa lead to five, 71-66. Williams swiped the ensuing in-bounds pass and laid it in for a one possession game with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.
Henry finished the 49ers comeback with the final six points of regulation. Henry went on the break for an easy lay-up to bring the Niners to within one. Tulsa pushed the lead back to three after converting two freebies. Again, Henry went to the rack. Henry finished with a team-high 18 points, nine boards and eight assists. Tulsa hit 1-2 from the line with 16 seconds remaining to give the Golden Hurricane a two-point advantage.
Henry went back to the well once more and tied the game for the eighth time with nine seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime. Tulsa had a tough look at the rim as time expired in regulation but could not convert. “Our Bigs and Terrence set good screens to allow me to get a good angle at the basket,” said Pierria Henry. “Coach Odom told me to be aggressive, but be smart in the same token. I just took what the defense gave me.”
The 49ers opened the overtime period with the jump ball and a quick 5-0 run. Williams gave the 49ers the lead for the first time since the 5:06 mark in the second half with a tip-in off a Henry miss. Williams finished the game with 14 points and nine boards.
Henry found Denzel Ingram on the wing for a triple and a five- point advantage. Ingram drains another from behind the arc to give the Niners a six point lead. Ingram finished the game with 17 points, hitting 6-8 from the floor and 5-6 from behind the arc. Ingram went 2-2 in the overtime period. “The shot from Denzel in front of our bench was huge,” Major said. “It gave us more of a cushion.”
Back to back lay-ups by Tulsa cut the Niner advantage to two, 84-82, with 1:59 remaining in overtime. Charlotte went 6-10 from the charity stripe in overtime despite going 22-42 for the game. Tulsa’s Harrison cut the 49er lead down to 88-86 with three seconds remaining with an uncontested dunk.
Cherry converted two free throws to give the 49ers a four point advantage and the win. Cherry went 4-4 from the stripe for the game and finished with 10 points hitting two threes as well.
The first half was a battle for both teams swapping baskets throughout most of the half. Tulsa jumped out to its largest lead of the half early in the half after a Harrison lay-up for a 4-1 lead. Charlotte went on a 6-0 lead to take the lead 7-4 after a Williams’ jumper.
The first half featured seven lead changes and six ties. Charlotte closed the half building its largest lead to six, 32-26, after a jumper by Mike Thorne Jr. with 1:45 remaining in the first half. Thorne had eight of his 13 points in the second half. Thorne hauled in a team-high 11 boards being the only 49er with a double-double.
Charlotte took a three point lead into the locker room, 32-29. The 49ers built its lead up to eight, 37-29, with a 5-0 run coming out of the break. Tulsa tried to claw its way back into the game cutting the 49er lead down to one three times.
Tulsa went on an 8-0 run with 5:21 remaining in the second half to take the lead 63-60 after a Tim Peete triple. Tulsa built its lead to eight after a Tulsa lay-up with 1:16 remaining, 71-63.
Willie Clayton’s streak of consecutive games in double-figures continues to 15 games scoring 10 points with eight rebounds.
Charlotte returns to Halton Arena on Saturday January 18, as the 49ers square off with North Texas (10-7, 1-2 C-USA) at 7 pm.